Economy is broken, not arts, Assembly candidates are told
The five main political parties have heard pleas for the arts sector to be protected during the arts and business hustings at the Grand Opera House in Belfast.
Declan McGonnagle, one of the most influential figures to emerge from the arts scene in the north west, said all the statistics proved that the arts not only pay for themselves, but leverage huge amounts of extra money into society for every pound spent on them.
"It’s the economy that is broken in this society, not the culture," he said.
"The relationship between the arts and those who make funding decisions needs to change.
"We need to break the cycle |of threat, cut, begging, and |reprieve."
Candidates from each party tackled the themes of arts in relation to a shared future, education, the economy and cultural tourism, at the event hosted by Audiences NI and Voluntary Arts Ireland.
Outgoing Arts Minister Nelson McCausland said a shared future is at the heart of everything Government should be doing, and should include the principles of equity, diversity and inter-dependence.
Stephen Farry of Alliance |said that shared and creative |societies go hand in hand and creative societies are the most economically successful.
Declan O’Loan of the SDLP said that Northern Ireland is a society questioning its identity and the arts provide a fundamental arena for challenging, provoking and asking questions about where we are and where we are going.
Barry McElduff of Sinn Fein said the arts are crucial in helping to break down barriers and bring people together.
He said communities should continue to invite each other to events and called the arts a safe space for debate, where you could tell your own story and engage people.
Mark Finlay of the UUP said peace was difficult, but reconciliation was even more difficult.
He said arts and culture play a massive role in promoting, selling and moving our society forward.